North West MEC claims R1 million in travel claims for own car after rejecting state vehicle

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North West MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development Desbo Mohono is claiming more than R1 million in travel expenses for the year 2019/2020 as she used her personal car despite being allocated a state vehicle.

In her written response to the North West legislature’s speaker earlier this month, the MEC said she was claiming a total of R1 032 492.83 as she “paid for fuel, tyres, services and maintenance… from own pocket,” for her Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

Her reasons for using her own vehicle were that: “The department had not allocated MEC with an official vehicle.”

According to Mohono’s answers, the department only purchased and allocated her a vehicle late last year.

“The private vehicle was used from 1 February 2019 until 31 July 2020, after which the department of transport rented and allocated me a car from Gauteng government, which I utilised from 1 August 2020 [until] 1 October 2020. The department was only able to purchase and allocate me with an official car,” she said.

Mohono had actually rejected two-state vehicles

The department had purchased a Jeep Cherokee 3.2 Limited through the department of community safety and transport management which was received towards the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

During the execution of the MEC’s work, however, it came to light that the vehicle was not suitable for all roads, particularly farm roads where she did her work.

According to an April 2020 report by the chief financial officer (CFO) of the agriculture and rural development department to the North West portfolio committee on economic development, tourism, agriculture and rural development, the department solved her problem by internally purchasing a Ford Ranger Wildtrak which is suitable for all roads.

As per requirement for MEC vehicles, the car was tinted and fitted with blue lights and a siren.

But Mohono wasn’t interested.

According to the CFO’s report, she: “showed no interest in using the vehicle and instead opted to use her own vehicle. This matter was raised several times and her position on the matter did not change, therefore the status quo remained,” said the report.

The purchased Ford Ranger Wildrak meant for the MEC was instead given to the newly appointed deputy director in the head of department’s office with the blue lights and siren removed and registration number changed.

Her fuel claims

Mohono said she was claiming R1 032 492.83 for maintaining and using her Jeep SRT from her own pocket for the 17 months she used her personal vehicle.

In indicating her expenses between November 2019 and March 2020, the CFO report showed that the MEC had already claimed R171 580 for the four months.

The report found however that there were no grounds to grant her permission to use her own vehicle as there was already a brand-new vehicle purchased as a relief VIP vehicle.

“This was never used and had only clocked less than 10 000km on the speedometer. There was therefore no need for the department to seek approval or permission for MEC to utilise her private vehicle as the official vehicle was readily available.”

But in granting permission, the Ministerial Handbook of 2007 was used which allowed MECs to use their own vehicles and claim all distances travelled for work purposes at a tariff equal to three times the standard running and maintenance allowances, said the report.

However, the new Ministerial Handbook issued in November 2019 did not make provisions for the utilisation of personal vehicles by MECs as it states that vehicles should instead be hired in the absence of a state vehicle.

Jeep Cherokee vs Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT vs Ford Ranger Wildtrak

The rejected Ford Ranger Wildtrak seemed to be the most suitable vehicle for farm terrain as compared to the MEC’s personal Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, said motor expert and motor journalist Charl Bosch.

The MEC’s personal vehicle was the high-performance version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee she claimed was not suitable for all types of roads.

Neither was the Jeep SRT, Bosch explained.

“A Grand Cherokee is wholly unsuitable because it has sports tyres and would never go to the same place as a Ford Ranger. The Jeep SRT is basically the upper-class Grand Cherokee. It’s the performance version of the Grand Cherokee…. The Ford Ranger is more acceptable for off-road driving,” he said.

Premier to give answers

North West Premier Job Mokgoro is expected to give answers to questions raised by the DA after they requested him to make good on his promise of tabling findings on the travel claims.

Mokgoro had last year conceded that the R1 million claim was in contravention with the guidelines in the Ministerial Handbook and the amount claimed would be investigated.

-The Citizen

In other news – Prayers pour in for Skeem Saam actor Clement Maosa over death of his mom and dad who died after their engagement

Skeem Saam actor and businessman Clement Maosa whose always been vocal about losing his parents at a very young age recently took to social media to share a snap of his birth parents on the day they celebrated their engagement.

Clement Maosa

Clement reflected on how their death came about so sudden and he and his siblings did not even get time to mourn. Learn More

The post North West MEC claims R1 million in travel claims for own car after rejecting state vehicle appeared first on News365.co.za.

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